A New Way to Interact with Reality
It wasn’t that long ago that I received the gift of Wŭ Xíng from my teacher, but even over the last five years painting has changed me dramatically. I understood from the start that Wŭ Xíng was more than just painting, and couldn’t even imagine how deep and rich of a practice it was. I’m not afraid to call Wŭ Xíng a unique method of spiritual and psychophysical development.
Wŭ Xíng painting rests on three pillars: the achievements of Chinese traditional Guo Hua painting, strong, assured movements of the painter, and the deep metaphysics “built in” to the process of painting. And this fundamentally distinguishes Wŭ Xíng from other forms of visual art. Here, how the artist paints is hugely important rather than what he paints. The process takes the foreground, displacing the end result to the background. At its heart this type of painting is closer to the practice of Wushu or Tsigun than to the European understanding of painting. It shows a number of similarities with Xingyiquan (one of the internal styles of Wushu). Just as Xingyiquan, Wŭ Xíng is based on five movements which correspond to the base elements of Wŭ Xíng. Yet Wŭ Xíng combines not only painting and Wushu – among the practices developed in China you would be hard-pressed to find one that has not been influenced by Wŭ Xíng.
Wŭ Xíng’s system takes its beginnings from the teachings of ancient Taoist teachers. Taoist natural philosophy understands the world as an exchange of five energy elements: “Wood,” “Fire,” “Earth,” “Metal,” and “Water.” Each of these elements represents a specific characteristic of existence:
Wood – stability, directness
Fire – fickleness
Earth – structuredness
Metal – refinement
Water – deceitfulness, sophistication.
Each of the movements in Wŭ Xíng painting contains a characteristic of one of the prime elements. If a person is in harmony, the influences of the five elements balance one another. This is what practitioners of Wŭ Xíng strive to achieve with a brush and paper. By representing his surroundings, the artist can discover their qualities using his brush and use this to learn from nature how to be in harmony. Thus Wŭ Xíng painting provides a new method of achieving consciousness of existence through methods similar in some ways to the magic practiced by ancient shamans. Just as the shaman is transfigured into a bear through dance, the artist “absorbs” the energy of the painted object.
The artistic task in this case comes down to accurately conveying the energy of an object rather than its form and external appearance. However, if all movements are made properly, anyone should be able to identify the object represented in the picture.
A Wŭ Xíng painting not only includes the 5 Wŭ Xíng movements, but other important elements as well:
- juxtaposition of emptiness (Ying) and fullness (Yang) in the drawing
- synchronization of brush movement and breathing
- a straightened spine, aiding the movement of vertical energy flow
- consciousness and extreme concentrations in each action
- the state of non-doing (Wu Chi) while drawing.
This all aids the practicing artist to spiritually enter into what he is depicting. Naturally, these details will be familiar to those who practice various Taoist exercises. Beginning with Tsigun and ending with inner chamber practices. Thus Wŭ Xíng painting can be a means for many to have union with the universal harmony of the Tao.
In order to feel the effect from Wŭ Xíng painting one does not at all need to be a sinologist or know anything about ancient China. Thus Wŭ Xíng painting became an excellent instrument for solving problems for many and various people. Today, using Wŭ Xíng painting I conduct business training for office employees and art therapy sessions to help solve personal problems, and I help many people learn to paint professionally, even though most of them have never once picked up a paint brush.
Wŭ Xíng painting is also a “fast dive” technique. After just a few lessons you will be able to achieve the same result that people have achieved over years with traditional academic techniques. In 8 lessons using “Wŭ Xíng painting” you can learn to paint from scratch.
We invite you to join courses at our Moscow School of Chinese Wŭ Xíng Painting.